5 festive reads for children this winter

Book covers of festive books for winter

As the weather gets colder, it’s the perfect time to cosy up in the library or at home and share a story with your little ones. Escape to faraway lands and engage their imagination with stories about adventure, friendship, and mystery.  

We’ve prepared a list of our favourite festive stories to borrow from your local library, so you can keep your children entertained over the winter months. Based in chilly settings, these beautifully illustrated picture books have twists, turns and heaps of snow to get you excited for the magic of the holidays. 

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The Snowman™ and The Snowdog by Raymond Briggs  

The Snowman™ and The Snowdog is the sequel to much-loved classic The Snowman™. Billy isn’t full of festive cheer as his beloved old dog has passed away. When snow starts to fall, Billy builds a snowman, and with his leftover snow builds a snowdog too. Later that night, something magical happens; Billy embarks on a wonderful snowy adventure as The Snowman™ and The Snowdog come to life. 

And you can join The Snowman™ and The Snowdog in real life on a festive winter wander around some of Hampshire’s most spectacular country parks. A Winter Wander with The Snowman™ and The Snowdog is taking place at Royal Victoria Country Park, Queen Elizabeth Country Park and Lepe Country Park. Head to the event website to book now.  

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The Storm Whale in the Winter by Benji Davies  

The Storm Whale in Winter is a follow up to Benji Davies’s bestselling book The Storm Whale. Last summer, Noi rescued a little whale when it washed ashore in a great storm. Now he longs to see his friend again. Winter sets in and Noi worries about his whale and if it can survive the harsh conditions. 

One night Noi thinks he sees the whale out at sea and rushes outside for a glimpse of it. Soon the whale may be lost in the blanket of ice and snow – who will rescue him? Follow Noi and his old friend on an emotional story about long-lasting friendship.  This beautifully illustrated tale is full of busy scenes and captivating characters, to keep children engaged while reading along.  

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No Sleep for Bear by Duncan Beedie  

Winter is approaching and it’s time for Bear to have a nice long sleep. But the more he tries to get to sleep, the more awake he feels. So, he decides to copy his forest friends who seem to doze off without any trouble: he sings in the trees like Blackbird, burrows underground like Badger, and even hangs upside down from his cave roof like a bat. But nothing works – until wise Frog shows him how to relax, and soon the forest is reverberating with his snores! This is the perfect story to send your little ones off to sleep on a chilly winter’s night. 

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The Snow Dragon by Abi Elphinstone  

When the first snow of winter falls, Phoebe wishes for it to bring with it some much-needed magic. In Griselda Bone’s Home for Strays, magic, daydreaming, and doodling are banned. Just as Phoebe is about to give up hope, a Snow Dragon appears and whisks her away on an adventure. An enchanting tale, full of fantastical creatures and winter magic. The Snow Dragon is also available to borrow as an audiobook to listen along as the little ones drift off to sleep.

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Snow Penguin by Tony Mitton  

In the frozen Antarctic, one curious little penguin decides to explore the ice, snow and sea. On his travels he sees two blue whales, a family of sea lions and a whole school of orcas, but soon Penguin starts to miss his own family. Sometimes coming home is the best adventure of all. Told in rhyming couplets, this feel-good book explores themes of bravery and courage. Cosy up on Christmas morning and follow this little penguin’s journey.  

If your kids would like to try out some other books this winter, head over to the Reading Agency’s website to find out more about the mini winter reading challenge. This challenge is full of fantastic books to discover this winter. Hurry and complete the reading challenge before the holidays end.  

12 More Picture Books from 2016

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As promised yesterday, here are twelve more of our favourite picture books published in 2016.  These are aimed at slightly older children than yesterday’s selection, but every child is different.

We hope you find some more of your favourites here – and maybe some ideas for books you’ve not yet read.  All of our suggestions from yesterday and today are available to borrow from Hampshire Libraries.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Bear Spotting – Michelle Robinson & David Roberts

Are you going for a walk in bear country? Bears can be very dangerous, but this helpful guide should help you get through safely. Probably. If you study it carefully.

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An Animal A B C – Alice Pattullo

A beautifully illustrated alphabet book, suitable for the whole family to share.  Each double page spread has a letter with an appropriately named and illustrated animal, but also includes interesting facts about the different creatures.  For example, did you know that rhinos suffer from sunburn?

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The Detective Dog – Julia Donaldson & Sara Ogilvie

Peter’s dog, Nell, has an amazing sense of smell – she can find anything! This is a gun celebration of reading, libraries and a friendship between one boy and his dog.

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Don’t Call Me Choochie Pooh! – Sean Taylor & Kate Hindley

Another dog story, this time about a spoilt little dog with plenty of attitude. She just wants to be like all the other dogs.

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15 things NOT to do with a Granny – Margaret McAllister & Holly Sterling

If your children enjoyed 15 things NOT to do with a baby then you will want to look at this new title from the same team. Personally I think the grannies all look fabulous!

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I Am Bear – Ben Bailey Smith & Sav Akyüz

Another bear book – or should that be bare? Or purple? However you describe him, this bear is trouble.

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Lionheart – Richard Collingridge

Richard is small and scared, so he runs until he reaches a magical jungle full of animals – and a monster. But he also finds a friend who helps him find his courage and to make more friends.

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Meltdown! – Jill Murphy

This book will probably be appreciated more by parents than children. Jill Murphy turns her eagle eye on toddlers, tantrums and supermarket trolleys.

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Monster in the Hood – Steve Antony

Three friends have heard all about the Monster in the Hood, but they wanted to see it for themselves. “Come out, come out, wherever you are! You won’t scare us!” Will the three friends get more than they bargained for?

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Odd Bods – Steven Butler & Jarvis

Ava is an odd bod. Boris is too… Clara, we’re not sure about. I think she’s odd, don’t you? This is an alphabetical celebration for every child who ever felt different.

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Rain – Sam Usher

It’s pelting down with rain and one little boy can’t wait to get outside.  Unfortunately his granddad has some important paperwork to do.  When at last he finishes the two leave the house together and have an amazing adventure.

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Stanley the Amazing Knitting Cat – Emily MacKenzie

Stanley is a talented and passionate knitter. He knits wonderful gifts for his friends, but then he has an opportunity to enter the Woolly Wonders Competition. Will he put the knitting competition before his friends?

12 Picture Books from 2016

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At this time of year we generally share twelve of our favourite picture books published during the last twelve months.  This year has seen a bumper crop of fabulous books and it was a struggle to cut my long-list of book choices down to such a small number – so I haven’t.

Today we are sharing twelve picture books which are arguably for slightly younger children.  Tomorrow we will offer another twelve books, this time for slightly older children.  We hope you find some of your favourites here and maybe some ideas for books you’ve not yet read.  They are all available to borrow from Hampshire Libraries.

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The Best Bit of Daddy’s Day – Claire Alexander

Follow Bertie and his daddy through their day, until they get to the bit that Daddy likes best.

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Goodnight Everyone – Chris Haughton

The sun is going down and everyone is sleepy – well, almost everyone.  A lovely book full of yawns, stretches and Zzzzzz’s.  Just right for bed time.

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The Greedy Goat – Petr Horácek

Goat has had enough of eating grass, so she tries lots of different things.  This is a fun, cautionary farmyard tale that shows, just because we would like to eat something, doesn’t mean we should.

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The Knight Who Wouldn’t Fight – Helen & Thomas Docherty

Leo loves to read, but his mum and dad don’t think that’s the way knights should behave. They send him off to fight a dragon – and any other fearsome creatures he might meet along the way.

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Love Matters Most – Mij Kelly &amp Gerry Turley

An evocative book showing many of the natural wonders of the lands around the Arctic Circle. More importantly, it shows a mother (polar bear) searching for and finding her lost cub. *sniff*

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Nibbles The Book Monster – Emma Yarlett

This book is great fun – with flaps, cut-outs and add-ins to help you follow the trail of Nibbles, the book-eating monster, through all sorts of places he doesn’t belong.

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Oi Dog! – Kes & Claire Gray and Jim Field

If you shared Oi Frog! with your children last year, then this book is a must.  Frog decides to change all the rules about who sits where.  The last page is brilliant.

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Solomon and Mortimer – Catherine Rayner

Another sequel, this time from Solomon Crocodile. In this book, Solomon has a friend to share in his exploits. Sounds like trouble to me!

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Tidy – Emily Gravett

Pete is a badger who likes everything clean and tidy. Unfortunately, he takes things a little too far and finds himself tidied out of his own home. Will he learn his lesson?

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The Truth According to Arthur – Tim Hopgood & David Tazzyman

Today Arthur did something wrong. He knows his mum will ask him about it. Will he tell the truth? Or will he bend it, stretch it and try to cover it up? A good starting point for discussions about honesty.

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Vrooom! A Race for First Place – Jonathan Litton & Kasia Nowowiejska

Ten busy, whizzy vehicles line up for a race. This is a tactile, counting-backwards book where vehicles disappear throughout the race. Who will be left at the finishing line?

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We’re in the wrong book! – Richard Byrne

Bella and Ben need your help, nice reader. Bella’s dog has bumped them off the page and now they are lost in the wrong book. Can you help them find their way home to a happy ending?

Alphabet Books to Share from Bookstart Bear

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Small children are learning all the time – they are discovering the world around them, who is in their family and what the different bits of their own body are for.  They are also learning about language and communication and picture books are a great way to help with this.

Our selection of books this month are all about the alphabet – the building blocks of our written language.  As young children gradually learn the letters you can ask them to spot them when you are out and about.  Choose the letters they know well and ask if they can see them in street signs, when you are shopping or visiting the library.  Help them learn which letters are in their own names, but make it fun.  Laughter is a great aid to learning.

 

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The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s abc – Eric Carle

Help your child explore the amazing animal alphabet in this delightful board book. Featuring Eric Carle’s bright, distinctive artwork, you will meet lots of favourite animals, big and small.

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An Animal A B C – Alice Pattullo

Another book featuring animals, but suitable for the whole family to share.  Each double page spread has a letter with an appropriately named and illustrated animal, but also includes interesting facts about the different creatures.  For example, did you know a group of crabs is called a ‘cast’?  Me neither!

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First Signing ABC – Sam Williams & Kathy Robinson

This book is a little bit different.  It teaches youngsters the finger-spelling alphabet.  Alongside each signed letter of the alphabet is a picture and an illustration of the British Sign Language sign for that image.  Great if you have deaf people in your family or if there is a deaf child at playgroup or school.

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Quentin Blake’s ABC – Quentin Blake

As might be expected from Quentin Blake, there are some unusual items in this beautifully illustrated alphabet book. The gentle rhyming structure makes it an easy read for younger children.

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Alphabet Fun: Making Letters with your Body – Isabel Thomas

Another unusual alphabet book – this one combines literacy and physical development.  Works best if you have more than one child to join in.

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Big Digger abc – Margaret Mayo & Alex Ayliffe

Despite the title, this is not just about construction machinery.  All sorts of different forms of transport are represented in this alphabet book, from Fire Engine to Velodrome Track Bike.  You can have great fun trying to work out what sort of vehicle will come next.

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A First Book of the Alphabet – Chez Picthall & Margaret Hynes

This alphabet book goes into more depth than most of the others.  There are several words for each letter and also some questions to be answered.  A good book for adult and slightly older child to work through together.

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Astonishing Animal ABC – Charles Fuge

I love this book.  Prepare to meet a cosy cobra, curled up in a comfy chair and a jolly jackal and his jelly-jumping mice.  Nice rhythms and rhymes, but you may not be able to stick to them because you’ll be laughing at all the silliness on the page.

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Christmas ABC – Jannie Ho

I was only going to show eight books but then I saw this and, as it is the first of December, I had to include it.

Culturally Diverse Books to Share from Bookstart Bear

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Our planet is a big, beautiful place but, for most small children, their experience of it is limited to their immediate family and the places near their home.  Picture books can open a door to the wider world.

Some of the picture books in this collection show people living in other countries, some show the diversity of people living in our towns and cities.  You will find people of all colours, shapes, sizes and abilities – people like your family and people who may be a bit different.

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My Granny Went to Market – Stella Blackstone

Granny’s round-the-world shopping trip combines counting from one to ten with a light-hearted multicultural theme. She races round the world on a magical carpet, buying many things from the countries she visits.

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My World, Your World – Melanie Walsh

The world is full of all sorts of people, speaking different languages and living different kinds of lives, but deep down people are basically the same wherever they live.

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Off to Market – Elizabeth Dale & Erika Pal

Here is the bus off to market today, shiny and bright as it starts on its way, with Joe, the young driver, smiling with pride, as everyone stops to get on and ride.

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Peekaboo, Hello You! – Georgie Birkett

Where is everyone hiding at the seaside? Lift the soft flaps to look into the beach hut, behind the sandcastle, behind the boat sail, under the umbrella, and inside the towel to find the hidden children.

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Rattle and Rap – Susan Steggall

Rattle and rap, clickety-clack!  Follow a family on their train journey to the sea, passing cars on the level crossing, boats on the river, and lots of different people.

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Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes – Mem Fox & Helen Oxenbury

All over the world, babies are different. Yet in some ways they are very much the same: each one has ten little fingers and ten little toes – to play with, to tickle, to wave. And each child is very, very special to its parents.

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The Great Big Book of Families – Mary Hoffman & Ros Asquith

What is a family? Once, it was said to be a father, mother, boy, girl, cat and dog living in a house with a garden. But as times have changed, families have changed too.  This book takes a look through children’s eyes at the wide varieties of family life, from homes, food and schools to holidays, jobs and housework.

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Wait and See – Tony Bradman & Eileen Browne

It’s Saturday, and Jo has some pocket money to spend. So Jo and her mum go shopping, while Dad stays at home to make lunch for them all. But what should she spend her money on? She’ll have to wait and see.

(Nearly) Wordless Picture Books to Share from Bookstart Bear

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Baby Bookstart Bear reading a book

Sharing picture books with children is a wonderful way to bond, spend quiet time together and introduce your little ones to the big world beyond your arms.  The stories can be funny, informative and comforting and the illustrations help guide the child through the book, encouraging them to work out the words for themselves.  But what do you do when there are no words; or just one or two?

The following books are some of my favourite (nearly) wordless picture books.  They offer you and your child an opportunity to ask questions about what the pictures are showing and, using imagination and creativity, develop your child’s own stories and ideas.  They are great for developing empathy and can be enjoyed by everyone – especially useful for people who are not confident readers or for those who don’t have English as their home language.

 

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Stick! – Andy Pritchett

This delightful book about fun and friendship only uses six different words, but it is very clear what is happening.  The backgrounds are all very simple and uncluttered and the story makes me smile every time I read it.

Some authors have created a range of wordless picture books. You may already be familiar with the board books produced by Helen Oxenbury. If not, you might like to look at these three.

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Friends       book cover

Playing       book cover

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Red Sledge – Lita Judge

There are words in this book, but not very many and they are more like guidelines to help you create sound effects.  If you have a young child who has been slow in speaking, encourage them to make the sounds with you.

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Clown – Quentin Blake

I know that some children find clowns a bit creepy – and so do some grown-ups – but this book might help to change that.  It starts as a sad story, but develops into a tale full of friendship and hope.

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Archie – Domenica More Gordon

Archie is a very enterprising dog. The busier he gets, the more words appear on the page, but they are all single words, not sentences. Word of Archie’s talents spread – who do you think will be his most important customer?

Another author who specialises in wordless picture books is Alison Jay.  There are no words at al in her books, unless they are on sign.  Each page takes you a step further through the story.  The pictures are bright and busy, but very clear and often amusing.  At the end of each book you will find some pages of information or suggestions to help expand a message from the pictures.  Try these three and, if you like them, look for more of her titles on the library catalogue.

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Out of the Blue             book cover

Welcome to the Zoo     book cover

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Mr Wuffles – David Weisner

I have to confess that this is one of my favourite picture books of all time. It contains, cats, aliens and insects and, although words are used, only one of the characters speaks English. The other languages are truly alien. It is an exciting story and great fun, especially for slightly older children.

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Moonlight – Jan Ormerod

I’m ending this collection with a beautiful book about a family’s evening and how they prepare for bed. I’m certain the images will strike a chord with many a tired parent, but it is also useful for promoting discussions about bed time with your young child.

If you have a favourite wordless (or nearly wordless) picture book for young children, please let us know in the comments.  We’d love to get some new ideas.

Under the Sea – National Bookstart Week 2016

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Under the Sea is the theme for this year’s National Bookstart Week.  It runs from Monday 6th to Sunday 12th June and many of our Hampshire Libraries will be running special events and activities to mark the occasion.  Here are a few picture book titles you might like to share with your young children as part of the festivities.

 

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1 2 3 Under the Sea – Martina Hogan & Frankie Jones

This simple, easy to handle board book lets you and your little one count under sea creatures together.
Age: 0+

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Barry the Fish with Fingers – Sue Hendra

Meet Puffy the Puffer Fish who blows marvellous bubbles and Barry whose fabulous fingers lead to all kinds of fun and games.  If you enjoy this story, there is another one featuring the same characters – plus a hairy scary monster.
Age: 3+

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Dougal’s Deep-Sea Diary – Simon Bartram

Dougal’s day job is pretty boring so he gets very excited when it is time to go on holiday and enjoy his deep-sea diving hobby.  This book for slightly older children is told in the form of a diary making it quite different from most picture books.
Age: 6+

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Fidgety Fish and Friends – Ruth Galloway & Paul Bright

Some of the illustrations in this book of fishy poems have sparkles and texture so sharing the swishy rhymes becomes a multi-sensory experience.
Age: 3+

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Jolly Olly Octopus -Tony Mitton & Guy Parker-Rees

Fun pictures and bouncy counting rhymes combine to make this book one you’ll want to share more than once.
Age: 2+

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Mister Seahorse – Eric Carle

From the creator of The Very Hungry Caterpillar comes a book that shows how fathers play a major role in the birth of their children.  There are quite a lot of words, but also some magical see-through pages which turn what could have been a ‘learning’ book into an adventure.
Age: 5+

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Super Submarines – Tony Mitton & Ant Parker

There is plenty of technical language in this information book – perfect for those children who want to know ‘How?’, ‘Why?’ and ‘What?’
Age: 4+

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The Rainbow Fish Finds His Way – Marcus Pfister (translated by J Alison James)

The original Rainbow Fish story is very popular, but did you know it is just the start of a series?  In this story the Rainbow Fish gets lost during an undersea storm.  He makes some new friends who help him find his way home.
Age: 3+

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The Sea Monster – Sam Walshaw

Maisey and the pirates set sail in search of buried treasure, but something big, purple and grumpy is heading their way.  This book is part of a series featuring Maisey and friends.
Age: 2+

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The Shark in the Dark – Peter Bently & Ben Cort

The Shark in the Dark is hungry – and he is not friendly. Will the flustered fish become snacks?  Or will they teach the shark a lesson?
Age: 4+

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The Storm Whale – Benji Davies

This is a moving story about a lonely little boy who finds a young whale washed up on the beach.
Age: 4+

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The Very Messy Mermaid – Tracey Corderoy & Kate Leake

Twinkletail’s parents want everything to be neat and tidy, but she wants a proper birthday party with friends – and mess!  Can her fairy godmother save the day?
Age: 4+

 

To find your nearest Hampshire Library, visit our home page.

To find out more about National Bookstart Week, visit the national Bookstart website.

 

12 from 2015

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There is nothing nicer than snuggling up with your favourite small person to share a story with pictures. There have been some wonderful picture books published in 2015. Here are twelve of our favourites – all of which can be borrowed from your local Hampshire Library.

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15 things NOT to do with a baby – Margaret McAllister & Holly Sterling

This is a fun, cautionary guide to living with a new baby.  Definitely NOT a ‘how to’ guide!

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A Great Big Cuddle – Michael Rosen & Chris Riddell

A lovely selection of poems for very young children, written and illustrated by two of our Children’s Laureates.

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Babies don’t walk they ride! – Kathy Henderson & Lauren Tobia

This is a joyous celebration of babies and families in their every day lives.

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Betsy Visits her Grandparents – Helen Stephens

A gentle book about the first time a little girl has a sleepover at her grandparent’s house.  This is part of a series about first experiences.

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Big Digger abc – Margaret Mayo & Alex Ayliffe

An alphabet of transport – including some unusual vehicles – told in verse and with lovely bright illustrations.

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Daddy’s Sandwich – Pip Jones & Laura Hughes

A little girl decides to make her Dad the perfect sandwich.  She wants to include all his favourite things – but eating it might be a bit of a tall order.

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Dinosaur Rocket – Penny Dale

Three dinosaurs zoom into space.  Some nice repetition and detailed pictures to share with young fans of Tim Peake.

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Funny Face Sunny Face – Sally Symes & Rosalind Beardshaw

A fun book, written in rhyme, following toddlers through their day.

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Lion Practice – Emma Carlisle

Laura loves to practise. Today she’s practising being a lion and that involves lots of leaping, jumping and roaring.

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Please, Mr Panda – Steve Antony

Mr Panda has some doughnuts to share with other animals, but is anyone worthy to have one of his treats?

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Shark in the Park on a Windy Day! – Nick Sharratt

The latest book in this popular series has, as you might expect, rhyming, repetition, exciting cut away pages and – possibly – a shark!

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There’s a Bear on my Chair – Ross Collins

This rhyming book follows mouse in his efforts to move a very large bear out of mouse’s favourite chair.